From the Great Bear Rainforest

February-March 2003

This is an article from WaveLength Magazine, available in print in North America and globally on the web.
To download a pdf copy of the magazine click here: > DOWNLOAD

by Evan Loveless
The elusive Spirit Bear.

Deep in the heart of the Great Bear Rainforest, on the central coast of BC, is the small community of Klemtu, home to the Kitasoo/Xaixais First Nation. Accessible only by boat or seaplane, Klemtu is a remote community with limited access to resources, markets and economies. Consequently, the Kitasoo have had to become very creative in dealing with their economic and social issues. After years of frustrated dealings with governments and programs that provided little or no benefit, the Kitasoo decided that they needed to take control of their economic, social, land and marine use planning. Klemtu is now becoming a progressive community, one that is guiding its own destiny and leading the way in community economic development.

In June of 2000, the Kitasoo released their own cutting-edge Land Use Plan after slow progress was being made in the Central Coast Land and Resources Management Planning initiative (CCLRMP). The primary objective of the Kitasoo Land Use Plan is to protect fish, wildlife, cultural andbiodiversity values. The plan sets aside more than 40% of their traditional territory as Protected Area including the soon to be announced 'Spirit Bear Protected Area'. The land that the Kitasoo are protecting and managing in their traditional territory has sustained their people for centuries and they want to ensure this process continues.

Kitasoo totem pole.

In the protected areas of the Kitasoo Land Use Plan - the Nakami Weld - logging, mining and other resource extraction will be prohibited. Important recreational resources will be protected as well as key habitats of endangered species like the elusive white Spirit Bear (a genetic variation of the coastal black bear), which makes its home in the Kitasoo Territory. The remaining land base of the traditional territory will be designated as Integrated Use Areas andwill be managed according to Ecosystem Based Management (EBM) principles. Land and resources in these areas will be utilized in a sustainable way so as to create jobs and economic development opportunities while conserving wildlife, fisheries and other ecological values.

When the Kitasoo developed their land use plan, they had full involvement from industry stakeholders and environmental organizations, and now the provincial government will be incorporating the Kitasooplan, in its entirety, into its Central Coast Land and Resource Management Plan. This will certainly mark a new direction in land use planning for BC.

The Kitasoo are also actively involved in economic development initiatives such as small scale forestry and aquaculture. Aquaculture, especially salmon farming, is controversial and the Kitasoo are aware of the great debates over the issue. The problem for the Kitasoo is that in isolated coastal communities there are limited options for creating employment. However, there is another option for economic development, one that may help ensure a future for this fragile coastal paradise. The Kitasoo are developing Klemtu Tourism, a wilderness tourism business. They are working on several new tourism products in order to diversify their economy and capitalize on the opportunities created by the protected areas. If successful, this may prove to be a viable economic alternative to logging and fish farming.

Great paddling around Klemtu.

Klemtu Tourism offers several wilderness trips based out of the remote village of Klemtu. On these trips, guests have the opportunity to travel through beautiful channels and fjords, hike through pristine valleys, view rare wildlife, and visit some of the 100 documented ancient cultural sites. Guests travel by motorboat or kayak to the sites of interest. Guides share their knowledge of indigenous plants and foods, wildlife and local culture. You may see orcas and humpback whales, or a magnificent grizzly bear may splash through a stream on the hunt for salmon. If fortune smiles onyou, you may even catch a glimpse of the elusive Spirit Bear.

Klemtu is also a great staging area for a self-supported expedition. Services include kayak rentals, transportation, accommodation and area information. There are laundry and showers, two small stores and many community support services. Klemtu Tourism is also building huts throughout the territory which will be available for use by independent travellers.

How to get there.

By choosing a Klemtu Tourism trip for your holidays, or using the local tourism services, you can directly benefit the local community while encouraging and promoting solutions for the ancient forests and marine systems of the Great Bear Rainforest. When planning your vacation, considersomething that will help make a difference in this beautiful part of the world and one of the last untouched places on earth. Your participation and support in the Klemtu tourism venture can help preserve the home of the coastal species like the grizzly and spirit bears and keep it wild - forever.

© Evan Loveless is a Tourism Advisor for the Kitasoo/Xaixais First Nation.

Photos courtesy of Klemtu Tourism.

For more information on tourism opportunities in Klemtu, land use, and economic planning, or the Great Bear Rainforest, contact the Klemtu Tourism office at 1-877-644-2346,

E- mail:


You can also contact Evan Loveless directly at 250-721-9078 or .